United States District Judge T. John Ward filed his decision on Monday to certify a lawsuit alleging an illegal interdiction program by various Tenaha and Shelby County officials as class action. It wasn't long afterwards that plaintiff's attorney Tim Garrigan got requests for interviews.
Texas Lawyer reporters, local media and even national news outlets, including CNN and the Wall Street Journal, have been following the case over the years. The decision is significant in the legal efforts to stop illegal search and seizures and questionable 'interdiction' programs.In the 58 page class action certification decision Garrigan said the circumstances are what stood out.
KTRE put the judge's full order online here."It (the ruling) pretty strongly suggested that their (officials) interest was taking the money," said Garrigan.
A former constable testified as many as 1,000 people were stopped for traffic violations to look for narcotics trafficking. Most were minorities.
The only trouble is, "the police would say that their dog alerted on drugs and that they could smell marijuana, but they never found it," said Garrigan.
Nevertheless, when money was found it was often kept by officials. In exchange, the driver was free to go.
"There was never any real intention to prosecute anybody criminally," claims Garrigan.